This article should be useful for nonprofits and for-profits alike, but if I've learned anything from my years of nonprofit experience, it's that any nonprofit who doesn't continually establish a sense of relevancy and awareness in the community is destined to be short-lived. If you're not familiar with the nonprofit world, nonprofit organizations depend on community support to survive, and with enough support, they thrive. If you own a shop, offer a service, or sell products online, you may not need to get in the news as often as a nonprofit organization, but you also rely on the support of your customers (a.k.a. your community). This article is going to give you a host of best practices for 2020 to get your community looking your way and saying, "Wow. I LOVE them. How can I get involved?"
Develop and Utilize Strategic Partnerships
As business owners, or team members responsible for marketing and/or development, it's easy to put your head down to work in the business, while forgetting to work on the business. While some may disagree, I believe that developing and utilizing strategic partnerships is ESSENTIAL to a full and well-rounded marketing and PR strategy. If you're struggling to break through to your target customer that seems to be just outside of your social media reach, the BEST way to reach them is NOT paid ads, but with strategic partnerships. If you're struggling to raise awareness and relevancy in your community, you need to stop wasting money on billboards, and excessive print materials. You NEED to develop and utilize strategic partnerships.
A couple of best practices and how-tos for using partnerships to increase, awareness, relevancy, and sales:
1. Identifying Partners: Who already has the ear (and business) of the customers you're trying to reach, but isn't in direct competition with you? That's who you need to partner up with.
2. Establishing Partnerships: Rather than leading with the sale, lead with connection and mutual benefit.
3. Benefits: You get in front of your target customer in a meaningful way, and the more (and stronger) partnerships you successfully form, the more your community will begin to see you as a staple.
Interested in learning more about incorporating community partnerships into your marketing strategy? I've got an article completely devoted to it. You can read it here.
Focus on Relationships with Media
Do you know how many press releases or requests a newsroom receives on any given day? The answer is, too many to read or ever hope to cover in a standard news week. Do you know what separates your press release or media request from the 300 other releases that flooded their inbox today? Hopefully, the answer is a personal relationship.
How to establish strong relationships between your business/organization and the media:
1. Make an in-person connection: If your press releases haven't borne fruit recently, consider not only taking a hard copy of the release down to the station in-person, but go a step further and develop a press kit that will grab the attention of the news room.
(Never created a press kit before? Keep an eye out on the blog for an upcoming article on developing a press kit from start to finish!)
2. Steward the relationships: Once you make a connection with someone at the station, make sure to steward those relationships so when you reach out with an ask, it doesn't feel one-sided. That means inviting your connection to coffee once a quarter, inviting them to a networking event, or sending a card on their birthday. When staff is constantly flooded with requests, someone who is offering something to them is guaranteed to stand out. The extra work will pay off, I promise.
3. Make an impression at event: When I work an event for a client, I go out of my way to make an impression with the entire crew from each station. I get there early to greet them, ask who they need to speak to and lineup their interviewees, offer followup quotes and photos and send a followup email with any other relevant information, and a thank you. I can't tell you how many times after the event that I've had a cameraman or reporter reach out to me and let me know if I ever need coverage, to send them a message so they can mention my release in the newsroom.
I hope these 6 best practices will help you refine your strategy this year, and allow you to overcome the hurdles you've been facing in your marketing and development. If you want to read more on marketing and small business development, check out the other articles on the TBC blog.
Have a project you need some extra help on? Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next time!